Armidale upcycling is taken to an artisan level by Conrad White

A local man has found a novel way of drawing attention to the case for upcycling and recycling – and he needs your help.

Conrad White, a former IT consultant who resides in Armidale, is making a lamellar armour suit from more than 20,000 aluminium can ring-pulls.

According to Wikipedia, a lamellar armour is a type of body armour, made from small rectangular plates (scales or lamellae) of iron, leather (rawhide), or bronze laced into horizontal rows.

Mr White is using the ring-pulls for his small plates, but first, he needs to use a rotary tool to grind off the sharp edges on each one. He began this labour intensive task in February, and to date, he has finished more than 10,000 of them, sorting them into different types.

“I want this to look good, so I want to construct various sections out of various ring-pull types,” he said.

“I spend two to three hours a day working on them and I get through about 100 ring pulls a day. I think 450 in one day is the record, but that was on the weekend. It’s supposed to be in my spare time although it seems to be my second job now. ”

An enthusiastic historian, Mr White also used to write fantasy stories. He says Lamella is a style of armour that came about in the Roman times and the idea began as part of a live-action role-playing game he took part in. 

“I collected the ring-pulls and thought I might as well finish it as I’d gone to all this effort,” he said. 

“Then I thought -well maybe I can make it a challenge to complete it without spending any money, except for what I can reclaim via return and earn recycling, using only reclaimed materials to highlight how much waste there is.”

Mr White said he calculates how much electricity he uses for the project and offsets that using recycling collection. 

“Any equipment I’ve had to buy I’ve paid for through return-and-earn as well,” he said.

“The main goal of the project is to see if I can do this completely greenly using upcycled materials and without spending any money.”

Once he has finished the grinding and sorting the suit should come together quite quickly Mr White claims.

“I have actually put together a couple of very small pieces with recycled fishing line just to see how it all works and once I start putting it together it doesn’t take very much time whatsoever,” he said.

Putting together lamellar armour

However, before he reaches that stage, Mr White needs to find another 10,000 ring-pulls, and he is asking the Armidale community for help.

“I’m particularly looking for coloured ring-pulls as I want to decorate it when I’m finished and make it more than just a silver shirt,” he said.

“I don't want to do any unnecessary processing, and there are plenty of brands that have coloured tabs anyway.”

To save on fuel costs, Mr White will walk to you to collect any ring-pulls you have for him. Just give him a call or text him on 0407 416 611.